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There are many reasons to have a gun safe - increased security, fire and water protection, and even peace of mind that your firearms are secured from curious visitors that might make them a valuable investment. With this in mind, you may ask yourself, "Why doesn't every gun owner have a gun safe?"
Often, the answer to this question is the inability to answer another question – How much should I spend on a safe gun?
Shopping for a gun safe can be confusing, to say the least. A quick internet search or stroll through your local retailer will result in hundreds of choices, dozens of options, and prices that range from $100 to almost $10,000.
But this price range will provide the good, the bad, and the ugly of gun safes. Some will be far more advanced than the average gun owner needs. Others will offer neither the protection nor space necessary. Only a tiny portion will meet the long-term needs of all but the most avid collectors.
This means the field is narrowed considerably, bringing the average price you can expect to pay for a gun safe to between $500 and $1000. If you shop around for sales, you could save another $50- $200, especially after the holidays.
Almost any gun safe within this price range will offer the following features:
1. Heavy-duty construction with a minimum of 14-gauge steel cabinet material
2. Multiple steel locking bars
3. Electronic locking mechanism with key-operated backup
4. Movable shelving
5. Cloth-covered interior and painted exterior
6. A minimum of 45 minutes of fire protection
7. Storage for 20 + firearms (combined long guns & handguns)
The higher-end gun safe brands will provide increased storage capacity, more extended periods of fire protection, and the wiring for interior accessories such as lights and dehumidifiers. You can also expect to pay a little more for combined fire and water protection.
This is a common question; the answer depends on what you consider "cheap".
For this discussion, we define cheap as any safe costing less than the $500-$1000 average. In this scenario, the answer is no.
Many safes that cost less than $500 will offer less than 45 minutes of fire protection, which is the minimum necessary to survive a house fire. Others will be too small to house more than 2-3 firearms and will be quickly outgrown. While these models may be better than nothing, the small savings is hard to justify.
The cheapest safes are not safes at all. They are considered "gun cabinets" - something not ideal for hunting gun safe buyers.These models are constructed from thin-walled metal, provide almost no fire or water protection, and are lite enough to be carried off by 1 or 2 people. They are a metal version of the classic wooden gun case with a glass door front. Anyone seriously considering a safe should avoid these models.
How do you know if the safe you consider is a "cheap" safe or a quality safe at a significant discount? After all, even a great safe may be on sale and be within the cheap price range. Look at the construction, features, and industry ratings when figuring out how to choose a gun safe.
As we discussed earlier, the safe should be constructed of heavy-duty steel with a dual wall design and a fire-retardant barrier between the walls. Double locks, multiple locking pins, and a minimum fire rating of 45 minutes are necessary. All ratings, including fire and water protection, should be from a recognized, American-based laboratory or organization.
The size and additional features determine what you spend on a safe. Let's take a look at how each impacts price.
As stated earlier, the average gun owner should expect to spend between $500 - $1000 on a gun safe. This will provide nearly identical safes that differ only in size. You can expect a safe that will hold between 14-20 firearms at the low end. This number will be between 40-50 guns at the high end.
It is important to note that the number of firearms a safe will contain varies by manufacturer, and even nearly identical models can offer different numbers. Why? Because some manufacturers add additional handgun storage by mounting pockets on the interior door wall, which can increase capacity by 5 to 12 firearms.
If you live in an area prone to wildfires, you will want to consider a safe with a higher fire rating. Wildfires typically burn longer and hotter than the average house fire. This can add as much as $200 to the safe's price compared to a similar model.
Likewise, if you live in a flood-prone area, you will want to consider a safe with a flood rating. These safes are airtight and will prevent water penetration for up to seven days, more than enough for most flood situations. Again, this can be $200-$300 to the final price. The excellent news is that flood-rated safes provide additional fire protection, giving you more bang for your buck.
One of the most popular options gun-safe buyers look for is an interior electrical connection. An internal electrical connection allows you to install lights, dehumidifiers, and temperature/humidity monitoring systems. Unfortunately, this accessory is generally only available on larger safes. However, it does not typically add more than a few dollars to the final cost. In the long run, buying a safe with an electrical connection installed is cheaper than buying disposable dehumidifier cans. Still, it does require access to an external power source, so where you can place the safe is limited.
As stated earlier, you can spend as little or as much as you want on a gun safe. However, for the average gun owner, a quality safe can be purchased for as little as $500. Even gun owners with all but the most extensive collections and security needs can buy a safe for less than $1000.
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